FERC should consider a two-part tariff to boost transmission investment.
Transmission, rather than generation, is generally the constraint preventing customers from getting the power they desire.
It's the Grid, Stupid!
DURING THE WEEK OF June 22 there was a major imbalance between supply and demand for electricity in the Midwest. Although demand was high enough to set a few records, the real problem may have been the lack of supply. Many generators were out of service and a few marketers reneged on contracts to deliver power. Market prices for bulk power allegedly soared as high as $4,000 per megawatt-hour. The industry was left in an uproar over these volatile prices, especially since a competitive market has been touted as a means to achieve lower prices, not higher ones.
POWER DISTURBANCES COST U.S. ELECTRIC CUSTOMERS about $26 billion each year: nearly three times the anticipated annual saving from deregulation.
Competition and restructuring will only turn up the pressure, as the grid carries more low-cost power over longer distances to a wider variety of customers.
Already we are seeing a rapid rise in wholesale power transactions. Some utilities now complete as many such transactions in one day as they previously made in one week. Overall, the value of wholesale transactions has increased fourfold over the last decade.
The electric utility industry is undergoing its most profound change since Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse battled over whether the American power system should be AC or DC. In essence, that technological choice shaped the industry we know today. Edison's low-voltage, DC system would have required many small generating stations and short distribution lines. The high-voltage Westinghouse AC system promoted development
of long-distance transmission networks that deliver electricity efficiently from large, remote power plants.
In tales of old, it was just a matter of finding the bottle, rubbing it the right way, and VOILA! (em out came the genie to grant our wishes. But that myth hasn't worked to fully open up transmission (em at least not to date. Some say the devil is in the details, but these details are truly devilish.